With a loss to Ball State, Buffalo Bulls Men’s Basketball fell to 1-3 in MAC play and entered their matchup with Kent State tonight in rough position. Coming into the game the Bulls had the chance to win their seventh straight against the Golden Flashes. Led by a dominant underclassmen effort, UB’s taking a nice 82-69 road win back to Buffalo.
Tumultuous is an understatement of a word to describe the first half. Like every time the Bulls have visited the MAC Center as of late, UB got out to an early lead. Blake Hamilton, CJ Massinburg, and Dontay Caruthers all got quick buckets to give UB the 14-4 advantage.
Everything went haywire from there. With 13:38 remaining in the first half, Willie Conner threw punches at Kent State’s leading scorer Jimmy Hall. Conner was given a double-technical foul and was promptly ejected from the game. Within this mess, Kent State capitalized and went on an unanswered 17-0 run over the Bulls to gain a 21-14 advantage.
The rest of the first half was a dog fight for both teams. For Buffalo, CJ Massinburg took over and showed a dominant effort from all over the court. Massinburg had no problem grabbing the rebound, laying it in for two, or dropping long shots from beyond the arc. When UB entered the half with a slim 40-37 lead, Massinburg had 16 on the night already.
UB’s second half was one of the most special halves the Bulls have played all season. With Conner out to ejection, Hamilton and Kadiri with four fouls, and Johnson out on suspension, Buffalo needed their underclassmen to lead the way. Dontay Caruthers, Massinburg, Nick Perkins, and Nikola Rakićević each brought in valiant performances that Kent State could not answer to.
Rakićević’s performance was the culmination of the role he’s given this team in the past three games. His defensive pressure is some of the best on the team now and without worrying about that, “Johnny” went to work on offense. Nikola shot 6-11 from the field and that would’ve been even better had he not bricked so many shots from three point land. I think it may be safe to say that Rakićević is getting big minutes for the remainder of this season.
The final seven minutes of the half were UB’s alone. The Bulls went on a 21-5 run with UB’s underclassmen and a foul ridden Hamilton at the forefront. Buffalo once again showed off the team they can be if they execute on defense.
CJ Massinburg lead Buffalo with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists on the night. Massinburg has come alive in MAC play and continues to impress. Perkins (17), Rakićević (14), and Caruthers (11) round out four Bulls finishing the night in double figures.
The win brings the Bulls to 2-3 in MAC play. Buffalo now returns home to play Western Michigan this Saturday. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3 and tip-off is due at 2:30 PM.